15 Natural and Effective Alternatives to Ibuprofen

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15 Natural and Effective Alternatives to Ibuprofen

People way too often look for a quick fix – a shortcut that turns out to be a detour. When pain strikes, we all want and need immediate relief. Give me that painkiller! We assume that over-the-counter drugs, like Ibuprofen (Advil) and other NSAID drugs, are safe – after all, they are so readily available. But we might want to re-consider that.

Before you reach for one of the many bottles on the drugstore shelf, read on to learn about the side effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and what to do instead.

The Health Risks Related to NSAIDs

Recent research has linked high doses of ibuprofen over long periods of time to cause liver damage, intestinal problems, heart disease and vascular problems to name but a few. Another research indicate that the risk of heart attack increases as much as a third and the risk of heart failure doubles among heavier users of NSAID drugs. More common side effects include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion and abdominal pain.

According to a study published in the journal of infectious diseases, NSAIDs will suppress the body’s immune system. In the study, the participants who used ibuprofen had a longer illness than the ones who didn’t use it. The reason is that NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen dampen the body’s inflammatory response, the defense system.

According to another study, long-term high-dose use of painkillers such as ibuprofen or diclofenac is ‘equally hazardous’ in terms of heart attack risk as use of the drug Vioxx, which was withdrawn due to its potential dangers. The 2004 Vioxx recall, as you may remember, was spurred by the nearly 30,000 excess cases of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths caused by the drug between 1999-2003.

Plus, when we take painkillers, the actual root of the problem stays unaddressed. Sooner or later, that pain will return, so it’s always good to treat also the underlying problem that causes the pain.

The Best Natural Alternatives to Ibuprofen (Advil)

As always, nature offers some alternatives. Different spices, herbs and vitamins can fight the pain very effectively, and they come with less nasty side effects.

Always remember that although these are natural substances, when you take them in their concentrated form like supplements, you need to consult with your doctor first to make sure they don’t interfere with current medications you take and to determine the right dosage for you. Here I would like to present the natural and powerful alternatives to Ibuprofen.

Spices you can use

1. Capsaicin is an active ingredient in cayenne peppers. It is a known pain killer and is used as a cream, an ointment, a spray or a skin patch, usually in concentrations between 0.025% and 0.075%.

British Journal of Anaesthesia reports that there are numerous studies that support the efficacy and safety of low-concentration capsaicin formulations in pain management. Capsaicin is what makes cayenne so healthy, but also so hot, so make sure you avoid the eyes! And wash your hands after use.

If you have a migraine and if you can bear the taste, add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a glass of water (8 ounces) to find instant relief. Get more information in my post about 10 reasons why cayenne pepper can revolutionize your health.

2. Ginger can be very helpful if you’re suffering from joint pain. It is an anti-inflammatory and also supports the blood flow.

A study conducted at the Odense University in Denmark has concluded that ginger is superior to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen, as it acts on many different levels. It is so easy to include ginger in your daily diet, or make a beverage from it.

If you can’t get your hands on a ginger root, you can always go for the powdered form. Find more information in my other post on how to use ginger as a medicine.


Adding ginger to your diet is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.

3. Curcumin is an active ingredient in turmeric, which is a relative of ginger. It comes from India and has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. Not only does it fight pain, it is also known to have other healing properties.

It acts as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, anti fungal, antibacterial and is known as a potent anticancer substance. So much packed into one plant! Get more information in my post: 12 reasons you should eat more turmeric (including Golden Milk recipe to treat many ailments)

You can also make your own anti-inflammatory and pain relief turmeric ginger tea – get the full instructions here.

Herbs you can pick

4. Bosweilla is the resin from the Boswellia serrata tree which is found in India. Boswellia contains Boswellic acid – an active component that improves the blood flow in the joints and prevents the accumulation of white blood cells which cause the inflammation.

5. Arnica is a European flower that is often used in homeopathic herbal creams for aches, pains, and for treating bruises and wounds. You can also use full-strength arnica. A study from 2007 found that arnica gel worked just as effectively as ibuprofen in relieving osteoarthritis in hands.

6. Cat’s claw, also known as Uncaria tomentosa or una de gato, grows in South and Central American jungles. It contains an anti-inflammatory agent that blocks the production of the hormone prostaglandin, which may contributes to inflammation and pain.

It can be taken as an extract or you can consume the root bark itself in low doses, one to three times daily. You shouldn’t exceed the recommended dosage, or you may end up suffering from diarrhea.

7. White willow bark has been used already by the Romans and the ancient Chinese. It contains a natural chemical known as Salicin, which was used as a model for Aspirin.


A randomized controlled trial from 2001 concluded that white willow bark extract is a moderate analgesic that can be used in treating osteoarthritis. It is also good for other types of pain, including lower back pain.

If you are interested in herbal remedies, you can find more useful information in my e-book the Herbal Remedies Guide. This guide will teach you how to treat common ailments using herbs.

Supplements you should stock

8. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil are reported to have anti-inflammatory effect. The University of Michigan reports that fish oil significantly reduces the production and effectiveness of various prostaglandins. These are naturally occurring hormone-like substances that can increase inflammation.

A Scottish study reported that patients with rheumatoid arthritis, who were taking cod – liver oil, cut their ibuprofen-like medications by up to a third (you can find more information in my post about natural remedies for arthritis which fish oil is one of them).

Another study showed an even better outcome: patients with head and neck pain were able to stop with painkillers altogether after consuming fish oil for just ten weeks. You can find more information in my post about the amazing health benefits of omega 3 fish oil.

9. Vitamin D deficiency has been connected with many acute and chronic conditions. It has been shown that people deficient in vitamin D use almost twice as much pain medication to provide relief!


There is an established link between extremely low vitamin D levels and chronic, general pain that doesn’t respond to treatment. So make sure you get enough sunshine! Or, if you don’t live in a sunny place, use vitamin D supplements. You can find here more information about vitamin D deficiency.

10. Vitamin B complex is a family of vitamins that is nutritionally very important and also has many healing properties.

Researches from Texas have shown that a combination of B vitamins can bring relief to chronic back pain in as little as 30 minutes. B vitamins have also been used to treat conditions such as lumbago, sciatica and facial paralysis, which can all be described as neuropathic conditions that are generated by the nerves themselves.

11. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, fish, and grains.

It is marketed as a dietary supplement for pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. Recommended dose is 1,000 to 4,000 mg daily. MSM is also one of the supplements I mentioned in my post on how to reduce inflammation in your body.

12. Glucosamine and chondroitin are building blocks that are naturally synthesized in our body and present in the connective tissues in our body such as the cartilage in our knees.

As we age, we lose the amount of these substances in our body, which leads to the thinning of cartilage, and might progress to osteoarthritis. Taking these substances together helps to reduce the symptoms of pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints and help to prevent further loss and stop the progression of arthritis.

Natural therapies you should try

13. Acupuncture is well known to help with certain types of pain, and has received increasing support in the medical circles. Consider this painless (at least in my experience) needle therapy if you are suffering from arthritis, migraine, lower back pain, menstrual pain, or post-operative pain.

For best results, choose your practitioner carefully! Reflexology can also be used to treat different types of muscle pain – neck, shoulders, back, legs, etc. Get all the information in my post on how to do Reflexology at home to treat common ailments.

14. Meditation is as old as humanity. It can be performed in various ways, and for various purposes – some seek enlightenment, while others just want to sleep well. Meditation can also help reduce chronic pain.

It reduces the production of ‘fight-or-flight’ hormones, such as cortisol, by deactivating the parasympathetic nervous system. Cortisol can increase the inflammation and enhances the perception of pain. If we can reduce the cortisol levels, pain will diminish. Also, it always helps to relax. You can find here 7 simple and effective meditation techniques without actually sitting down to meditate.

15. Essential oils you can try

There are many essential oils for pain relief, and people who use them seem to heal more quickly than others.

Some essential oils have analgesic properties, which means that they have shown to relieve or reduce pain, as well as anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic properties.

I’ve written in the past the article about the top 20 essential oils to relieve pain. Have a look at this article that covers the most common essential oils to relieve pain including how to use them to relieve pain. If you are interested to learn more about essential oils you can find useful information in my e-book Magical Aromatherapy. This e-book will help you to discover the power of essential oils and the most effective ways to use them.

As always, everybody is different, and your body will most likely respond in its unique way. It is a good idea to try different things, and see what works for you. There is no single ‘magic cure’ and usually a combination of supplements and therapies will do the trick.

So explore and experiment! Find your own perfect recipe for pain relief. If you suffer from back pain or muscle tension – you should read my other article: How to Relieve Back Pain and Muscle Tension Naturally

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18 Responses to 15 Natural and Effective Alternatives to Ibuprofen

  1. calvin ampuran says:

    great info n tks

  2. Tina Sordini says:

    I think massage should be added as one of the natural remedies!

  3. Dawn Strossner says:

    I suffer from chronic migraine and can’t wait to see if the herbs will help with the pain. Thanks for the info!!

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Dawn, also refer to the article “Top 10 Natural Tips and Treatments to Relieve Migraine” – https://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/top-10-natural-tips-and-treatments-to-relieve-migraine/

    • Wendy Clement says:

      I have had chronic migraines since a car accident in 2005. After living on a combination of Aleve and ginger root capsules for years I went to a ND who changed my Magnesium supplement from a pharmaceutical grade capsule to a liquid. He gave me “Trace Minerals Research, MEGA-MAG 400mg” this must be mixed with a flavored beverage or juice because of the taste. I mix 2 droppers full in about 6oz of gatorade a couple of times throughout the day then at bed time I mixing 3 droppers full. The difference is amazing I went from taking the aleve everyday sometimes 2x a day to taking it once or twice a week. I have been following this for just over a month. I have added bi-weekly neck adjustments and monthly massages in an effort to heal the damage and cure the migraines. Give it a try it could change your life. Good luck and many blessings

      • Donna says:

        Wendy Clement….I also take Trace Minerals products., both Mega-Mag 400 mg and Trace Mineral drops. I stumbled across this in my reading to help with fibromyalgia, autoimmune disease, and to help with pain in general. I’ve been adding them to my water for 2 1/2 years now. The difference it has made in my life is amazing!

  4. Inka Jochum says:

    very interesting

  5. Diana Bamidele says:

    Very informative and interesting.

  6. Mary says:

    I stopped taking Ibuprofen almost three years ago. The week I stopped it I lost six pounds without changing anything. I can only conclude that the loss was water weight. I also have less pain from osteoarthritis.

  7. Rachel says:

    I wish one of these worked for menstrual pain…I’ve tried all of the above in the past with zero luck.

  8. John Rittel says:

    Ibuprofen does not cause liver damage. You are confused with acetaminophen (Tylenol)which is extremely hepatotoxic.

    • Jenny says:

      Not according to MayoClinic: “Over-the-counter pain relievers. Nonprescription pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve, others) can damage your liver, especially if taken frequently or combined with alcohol”.
      Also see drugs.com under “Hepatic Effects”.

  9. E Dubs says:

    I like to deal with facts… what is a “high doses of ibuprofen over long periods of time”? It is very alarming the side effects presented in the article but when is the cut off for over it seems and use as needed??

    • Jenny Hills says:

      This research talks about 2400 mg Ibuprofen daily. According to the European Medicines Agency, “To minimize the cardiovascular risk, high doses of ibuprofen (2,400 mg per day or higher) should be avoided in patients with serious underlying heart or circulatory conditions, such as heart failure, heart disease and circulatory problems or in those who have previously had a heart attack or stroke”.

  10. MJ says:

    You have a contradiction that needs to be remedied.

    “6. Cat’s claw …contains an anti-inflammatory agent that blocks the production of the hormone prostaglandin, which contributes to inflammation and pain.”

    “8. Fish oil breaks down into hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins, which help reduce inflammation.”

    Which is it? Does prostaglandin hormone “contribute to” or “helps reduce” inflammation?

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Thank you for pointing it out. I have checked the original research and in both cases there is a reduction in Prostaglandins (hormone-like substances that can increase inflammation). So the section about fish oil should actually be: “8. Fish oil breaks down hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins, which helps to reduce inflammation.”
      I have amended the original article and added a few more details as well as links to the original research.

  11. Norman Hawkins says:

    Will any of the above products help ease pain and restore cartilage to worn-out knees? I have tried Glucosamine and chondroitin for many years without any effect. I cut out chondroitin because the molecules are too large to pass into the system consequently they pass through the body having done nothing other than waste my money.
    As for Glucosamine i started taking those in 2002 and have done almost continuously up to 2015 when i stopped because my knees were just getting worse.
    Many other products i have tried including liquid Oxygen but a cure eludes me.

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